Jalen Blot, director of campus life and diversity for Temple Student Government, said this semester was about discovering issues within the Temple community.
“I can’t propose solutions if there’s no problems that exist, and if there’s no problems that exist, it means I’m not identifying [them],” he said. “All in all, this semester was focused on what this campus needed, and next semester will be focused on providing solutions.”
Highlights of this semester for TSG include amending its constitution, the release of the TUnity statement on campus diversity with Mayor Michael Nutter declaring Oct. 28 “TUnity Day” and the “It’s On Us” campaign to end sexual assault.
Camille Bell, general auditor, made amendments to TSG’s constitution, which is applicable to general members and officers. It was last amended in 2011.
Chris Carey, director of student activities, sent Bell the previous constitution. Bell said she decided necessary changes and then discussed them with Student Body President Ray Smeriglio, Vice President of Services Blair Alston, and other TSG staff to receive their feedback before presenting it to university administration.
A major proposed change is the removal of Article 2, Section 3 of the constitution, which required the general assembly to authorize the use of funds by the TSG officers.
“We wanted to take it out because in the summertime, not all the students are here, and not all students are accessible to getting this information,” Bell said. “For example, if we have an event, it’s not very logical for us to reach out to everyone in the summer and expect a response, so that’s why we wanted to take it out. But we also agreed that whatever funds we are using, we’d let the [general assembly] know, even though we’re taking [the provision] out.”
Any amendments to the constitution must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the general assembly, the next of which will take place at the first meeting of the upcoming semester.
If the vote does not go through, Bell said a panel discussion will be opened up to take alternate suggestions from the general assembly.
Bell said amending the constitution was her biggest accomplishment this semester.
“It was my main goal this year that I’m pretty proud of,” she said. “I think it’s very important to get done because four years is too long for it not to be finalized.”
Bell’s plans for next semester include hiring an elections commissioner who will facilitate TSG elections from an unbiased viewpoint.
“I’ll be overseeing that, making sure they’re abiding by the rules, and helping out with elections, making sure it’s fair,” Bell said.
Elections are set to take place in early April, though a definite date has not been set, Smeriglio said.
Another change was converting the second floor of Morgan’s Dining Hall into an all-you-can-eat dining facility. The Morgan Hall Dining Center saw increased traffic and was an effective use of the space, Smeriglio said.
TSG conducted focus groups of a broad array of students to get recommendations.
“People elected us for a reason,” Smeriglio said. “The dining experience was something we talked a lot about in debates, as well as in general with students because it’s something everybody experiences. No matter where you come from … you still have to eat. It’s a unifying initiative; we came together and handled it right off the bat.”
The TUnity Statement was also a prominent initiative during this semester.
“TUnity was one of the more external-facing initiatives we had this year,” Smeriglio said. “It was a kickoff to a longer conversation and now Jalen has put a committee together where he is going to set forth a set of recommendations academically, student affairs-wise, as well as community-wise, how to put this document into practice.”
Next semester, the TUnity committee will recommend future campus events to foster an environment that aligns with the TUnity statement.
TSG is also in the process of bringing “It’s On Us” to Main Campus by creating PSA videos where administrators and students take the pledge to prevent sexual assault. Two representatives from TSG are also on the presidential committee for sexual misconduct.
“We represented the university as a whole with the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign,” Smeriglio said. “We’re currently working together to bring it to Main Campus, we’re rolling out a set of PSAs, we’re working with different student organizations and Greek Life to create their own pledge videos.”
Adopt-a-Block, the community service program focused on cleaning streets near Main Campus, increased in attendance from around 70 students per program last year to around 180 this year.
Student Organization Of the Week was also initiated this term at general assembly meetings to acknowledge organizations that are active on Main Campus.
Other initiatives and programs this semester saw engagement with service and cultural recognition programs like Back On My Feet Philadelphia and voter registration and education.
The general assembly meetings have been restructured. Committee meetings have been added where students can discuss “hot topics,” Alston said.
“Before, general assembly meetings every week would have [student organization] announcements, [and] there wasn’t really that much content,” he said. “We did the reconstruction so that students could really interact and engage in discussion and make sure their voices are being heard.”
TSG will be canvassing Main Campus next semester to ask students what issues or problems they have with the university, along with encouraging them to reach out to those who aren’t as involved on Main Campus or can’t make the meetings, Alston said.
A new program, Academic Leaders, will be for student leaders to contact their respective deans and give feedback on how the specific school or college functions. Upperclassman leaders will also serve as mentors for underclassmen.
Alston said a social media committee will be put together and will be staffed by students from various student organizations to promote events.
Blot will be coordinating a TSG series through the Temple Performing Arts Center, which will be a collective of programs and events run by different organizations, marketed by TSG.
Lian Parsons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @Lian_Parsons